Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


    Earl the Squirrel's Rule #9
Question:  Other than their nationality and tendency to present dramatic, loquacious prose [qua] poetry, what do Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski, and Amiri Baraka have in common?

Answer:  All were shock jocks.  Poetry trolls.  They became well known not by entertaining or edifying people but by offending them.  Whether it was obscenity, misogyny, one of the -isms or "political incorrectness", it was the stuff of demagogues, appealing almost exclusively to adolescent males.  One did not like this rabble-rousing;  one either agreed with it vociferously or rejected it entirely.  Its hype centered around the persona, not the verses.  All hat, no cattle. 

     If we add Dr. Seuss into the mix we have a startling fact:  the four most successful "poets" of the last half century wrote exclusively for kids.  A doggerelist and three p[r]osers.

     Just to be clear, the "work" of these three Young Adult linebreakers wasn't awful because it failed to reflect everyone's politics.  Neither did "Easter, 1916" by William Butler Yeats.  It wasn't atrocious because it was lurid.  Consider Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale".  It wasn't meritless because of the "-isms".  In reflecting attitudes of his time Shakespeare has been accused of many of these.  It wasn't detritus because it lacked any hint of technique beyond crude anaphora.  Michael Ondaatje's "Sweet Like a Crow" was intentionally¹ cacophanous.


     Was the contribution of these PoetTrolls trash because of the way geeks treated it?


 Earl the Squirrel's Rule #139
     It was shite because of the way its fans treated it.  Did they open online forums to discuss the text, as Usenetters did for Leonard Cohen?  Did they memorize, quote or perform it?  Did they get past its message to examine the individual words?  Or did they outgrow it, perhaps because, with experience, they encountered far more elegant and eloquent expressions of those sentiments?  Perhaps seeing a few hundred slammers scream the same polemics into a microphone got old quickly.

     Now we have the coal baron's son, emmerdeur Frederick Seidel, trivializing the tragedy at Ferguson² with his twentieth appearance in "The Paris Review³" since 2012.  This cryptocrap lacks even the maldramatic rhetoric found in other insulting forays.  It is word salad, the random, inchoate thoughts one might jot down before forming an outline, let alone a first draft. 

     It is scatterbrainstorming.  


¹ - We should bear in mind "Sweet Like a Crow" was prosey in order to make a point.  Sadly, others have made for an "aesthetic" out of this artlessness.  Worse yet, "Sweet Like a Crow" still sounds better than anything Bukowski ever wrote.  In other words, even with a concerted, deliberate effort an actual poet like Ondaatje cannot write as badly as a PoetTroll like Ginsberg, Bukowski, Baraka or Seidel.  It's a talent!

      For full effect, compare "Sweet Like a Crow" to "The Cinnamon Peeler".

² - Out of respect for all concerned, I won't dignify this with a link.

³ - I vote we sell "The Paris Review" back to the CIA.

     It was a far better poetry magazine then.

     I wish I were joking.

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